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Flames hope G Smith stays hot against Kings
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Latest Line: Calgary +130 O/U: 5
 
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LOS ANGELES -- Having erased a dubious distinction from the record books on Monday, the Calgary Flames will try to complete a successful Southern California road trip against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.

The Flames (2-1-0) broke a 13-year streak of futility with a 2-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday. They had dropped 25 consecutive regular-season games in Anaheim -- with their last victory at Honda Center coming on Jan. 19, 2004.

Mike Smith was stellar in goal, stopping 43 Anaheim shots in recording his 34th career shutout. When Calgary acquired him from the Arizona Coyotes in the offseason, the expectation was he would deliver performances like the one against Anaheim on a regular basis.

Smith is expected to face a Kings team he has mastered throughout his career, posting a 15-8-1 record against Los Angeles with a 2.23 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.

The Flames' search for reliable goaltending has extended over multiple seasons, and coach Glen Gulutzan hopes the former All-Star is the answer.

"He gives us confidence with just his puck play and the saves he is making," Gulutzan said after the Anaheim win. "Our team has a real sense of security there. Now, we are giving up too many shots and maybe we are too secure, but at the end of the day it is nice to know he is back there."

Smith was pleased that his performance ended the long losing streak and plans to be an integral part of a Calgary team that should contend for the Pacific Division title.

"When you play a team that long and you're not on the winning part of it, it gets old pretty fast," Smith said. "I know I've been on teams where it's happened to me so I wanted to help this team get over that hump. Tonight was a night where pucks were hitting me and we were able to get some goals. Our penalty kill was tremendous tonight. I'm just trying to be solid back there for this group. I've learned a lot over my career. One (thing) is just to look after what I can control. That's going to be my job for this team."

The Jaromir Jagr watch in Calgary continues as he awaits to appear in his first game in a Flames sweater. The legendary 45-year-old winger, who inked a one-year, $ 1 million contract on Oct. 3, is practicing with the team and has traveled on the road trip. Gulutzan has not been definitive about Jagr's debut date, but it is likely the team will hold off on his first game until Friday's home game against the Ottawa Senators.

Los Angeles (2-0-0) will be well rested for the matchup with three days off since its convincing 4-1 road victory against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

Anze Kopitar registered two goals and Jonathan Quick made 24 saves in the win over their divisional rivals. Coach John Stevens expects his two stars to revert to form after subpar 2016-17 campaigns. Kopitar could never find his stride offensively while Quick was limited to 17 games due to a groin injury. Stevens has installed a new offensive scheme and in the early going the Kings appear to be more aggressive.

"The intention to get to the net on the rush, using the whole zone and creating some offensive looks off some good cycles, change the point of attack," Stevens said after the San Jose victory.

Kopitar concurs with his coach that the new strategy should translate into more victories this season.

"That's a good indication of what we want to accomplish and how we want to play," Kopitar said. "We didn't score on the power play, but we moved the puck around and if we continue to move it like that, we'll create a lot of opportunities."

The Calgary match starts a four-game home stand for the Kings that could give the team a major boost of confidence ahead of a tough six-game road trip, all against playoff qualifiers from last season.

 


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